Ritual Object (Cong)
Neolithic period, Liangzhu culture (ca. 3200–2000 B.C.)
ca. 2400 B.C.
H. 10 in. (25.4 cm); W. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)
Purchase, Sir Joseph Hotung Gift, 2004
Among Neolithic jades, the cong displays the most complex form: a cylindrical tube encased in a square prism that gently tapers from top to bottom. Simple masks with circular eyes and bar-shaped mouths decorate the corners. Enigmatic in function and meaning, the cong probably signified wealth and social status. In a tomb found at Sidun, Jiangsu Province, numerous cong lay in a circle around the dead, suggesting that they also served a religious or ritual purpose.
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